By Jimmy Patterson
I first heard about the idea on one of the morning news shows. And as soon as I heard it, I wanted to try it. Not because it was some fad or some get-rich-quick scheme or some tell-all book I figured I could write about the blogosphere.
No, this idea had legs. One that had potential to stick. It was started by a place called Christ Church Unity in Kansas City, Mo. Seems the congregation there is whine free. They have taken a vow, such as it is, to not complain. It’s not a Lenten deal, as I am told by a blogger acquaintance who lives in KC. These guys practice it as apparently one of the tenets of their faith. And there are four of those tenets:
— There is only One Presence and One Power, God the Good, omnipotence
— If God is everywhere, God is also within everyone
— Our thoughts create our reality
— Pray affirmatively giving thanks for what you desire
— Practice the four principles (above) to the best of your ability each and every day.
New agey, sure, but some would say electric guitars and drums in a sanctuary are, too. But if both go to furthering and enhancing the kingdom, why not? Besides, how can you go wrong if you quit complaining?
I figured since my first two Lenten sacrifices weren’t going so swimmingly, I’d make a stab at trying to not whine for what remained of Lent.
It’s that third tenet around which the complaint-free philsophy must be built. Our thoughts create our reality. And so they do. So I set out to try to think without negativity. And I found out a few interesting things about myself and about living, or attempting to live, complaint free. But first let me say that in the month I’ve been
giving this a try, I have not been able to live 100-percent whineless.
What I’ve discovered:
— It may be impossible to be totally whine free. And so working at it is a good step. Just the thought of trying is a positive step. A great way to practice is to simply drive. Or turn on your computer.
— I have found myself literally stopping in mid-sentence and not saying something critical or whiney that had been on tongue’s tip, and it feels darn good to be able to put a stop to that.
— When a person first tries to stop complaining, my thought is that for several days, perhaps weeks even, he or she will mentally relive brief snippets of conversation just to make certain there have been no slip ups.
— Complaining and criticizing are quite often synonymous. Criticizing another person for something trivial is, I suspect, a large amount of complaining. Same way with criticizing someone to, say, your spouse.
— I am probably not unlike most people in that a lot of my whining is directed at technology in some form or fashion. We have grown so accustomed to instant gratification that when a page takes longer than a couple of seconds to download, our eyes can easily go a’ rollin’.
What is perhaps most troubling to me is that complaining is such a part of our daily routine. Many of us complain so much so that we don’t even realize we are doing it, even WHEN we’re doing it. On those occasions
that I have slipped during this little experiment, I have been well into the whine or complaint that I didn’t even realize I had gone there. It is so much a part of so many people’s ingrained behavior, it is perhaps enough to be considered human nature and even involuntary.
Psychologists will probably tell you we complain about things and others because it makes us feel better about ourselves. Having been on both sides now (and on the second side for a relatively tiny time period) I can tell you that the feeling you get when you withhold that complaint or that whine, is a more powerful feeling of good about one’s self as whining just for the sake of whining.
Dad always told me that a lot of people simply aren’t happy unless they are complaining about something. Dad also taught me that you can be happy without being critical. And he was right about that too.
I have found that the minimizing of sour thoughts has helped me to the point that I plan to continue even long after the Lenten period is over, which is one of the objectives of Lent in the first place: to change your behavior in the short term with hopes that it can catch on for the longer term.
Is living life with complaining a strong enough movement to justify an entire church making that its primary objective? Don’t know, but I can say after a month of it, living a whine free lifestyle is bound to bring a greater happiness in return. A person’s entire mindset stands a chance to change, and as a result, his or her relationships with others and with their God. A bright outlook as opposed to one peppered with complaining ad nauseum can bring a more fulfilled soul and a deeper understanding of the spiritual.
And if all those positives are achieved through a decrease in negativity and a higher level of joy is reached, who could complain about that?